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  • Print publication year: 2006
  • Online publication date: March 2012

10 - Plasticity in auditory functions

from Section A2 - Functional plasticity in CNS system


This chapter covers plasticity in the central auditory system, most notably in the auditory cortex, from a variety of viewpoints. Plasticity of the auditory system has an important function in the compensation of early loss of vision and hearing. The chapter considers neuroanatomical and neurophysiological studies in animals as well as behavioral and functional imaging studies in humans. Auditory cortex is involved in the identification and recognition of auditory objects including the decoding and interpretation of speech sounds and the appreciation of music. Plasticity in most cases can be seen as an adaptive process, but sometimes has consequences that expose the vulnerability of the brain for deprivation during critical periods of sensory development. Sensory deprivation in one modality can also have beneficial effects on other modalities. Deleterious consequences of auditory plasticity are revealed in phenomena such as tinnitus.